Gil “Frenchie” Benoit

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Gil "Frenchie" Benoit joined the U.S. Coast Guard in October of 1965. Assigned to the recommissioning crew of the icebreaker USCGC STATEN ISLAND (WAGB-278), he was deployed to Antarctica from 1966 to 1967 as part of Operation Deep Freeze. In February of 1968, he was transferred to the patrol boat USCGC POINT BANKS (WPB- 82327) and deployed to Vietnam. He reported aboard as a Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class, but filled the unoccupied 1st Class billet for a period of six months. Following this assignment, he was transferred to Division Operations where he operated in med-caps (Medical Care of the Civilian Population), coast watching, and small boat operations. It was while working in that last capacity during Operation Market Time patrols that he was wounded in an ambush on November 01, 1968, while attempting to interdict Sampans that were infiltrating South Vietnam from neighboring Cambodia. After two-and-a-half years of convalescence in the hospital, he was temporarily retired from service in 1971 as a Boatswain"s Mate 2nd Class. His awards include the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V and the Purple Heart. In later years, BM2 Benoit was employed by the Louisiana Department of Labor as a Disabled Vet Outreach Program Specialist. He is a founding member and past president of the Coast Guard Combat Veterans Association.